Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sermon: Rev. Alexander Crummell

 Image result for alexander crummell  image
Sermon for Sept. 10, 2015 ~ 11: 00 Rite I
Rev. Alexander Crummell
19th Cty Priest, Scholar, Author, Abolitionist
The Rev. Vicki K. Hesse
St. Philip’s In The Hills Parish, Tucson, AZ
For online access to the readings click here
I speak to you in the name of One God:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

Today is the Feast Day of
Rev. Alexander Crummell,
who died this day in 1989.
What do you know about him?

Biographical information includes:

·        Born in NY City, 1819, struggled a/x racism all his life.
·        Driven out of school in NH, Dismissed as candidate for Holy Orders. Rejected by General Seminary, but ordained in Dio Mass.
·        Outspoken advocate for abolition of slavery
·        Moved to England 1848, 1st black student to graduate from Cambridge.
·        Went to Liberia, Africa, as Epis.missionary, and professor of Philosophy and English 1853
o   hoping to establish a strong urban presence of independent black congregations
o   Worship, education, social service
·        Lack of funding, returned in 1873
·        Appointed “missionary at large of the colored people” in Wa DC and established St. Luke’s in 1875, serving as rector for 20 years.
·        In 1882, when Southern bishops wanted
to establish separate missionary districts
in each diocese for black congregations,
he organized The Conference of Church Workers Among the Colored People
to fight the proposal,
eventually became UBE.
·        Unionof Black Episcopalians (see handout from Sunday’s service, tell about Vigil on October 31 for PB Michael Curry.)

What gifts do you recognize in Rev. Crummell?
·        Perseverance despite discouragement
·        Strong faith in God
·        Perception that the Church transcended racism and limitations of it’s leaders
·        Unfailing belief in the goodness and greatness of black people

So it is not surprising
that these texts were chosen
to commemorate Alexander Crummell:

Sirach, with it’s repetitive
You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy
You who fear the Lord, trust in him
You who fear the Lord, hope for good things

Or Psalm 19
7 The law of the Lord is perfect
and revives the soul; *
the testimony of the Lord is sure
and gives wisdom to the innocent.
8 The statutes of the Lord are just
and rejoice the heart; *
the commandment of the Lord is clear
and gives light to the eyes.

And finally, the Gospel according to Mark:
The parable of the sower invites us to reflect on the complexities of faith, as illustrated by the parable of the sower.

In the parable, for example, Jesus says
the seeds passively “fell” –
·        on the path,
·        on the rocky ground,
·        among the thorns. 
·        But the seeds that “fell” on the good soil
brought forth great yields.
Yet when he explains it to his disciples,
he changes the verb to “sown” –
the active verb is “sown”
·        on the path (Satan takes it away)
·        on the rocky ground (receive with joy but fall away at any trouble)
·        among the thorns (cares of the world get in the way)
·        But the seeds that are “sown” on the good soil (hear the word and accept it) bear great yields.

This reflects the complex realities of our faith.
What makes our faith endure
during prosperity as well as hardship? 
The parable invites us to consider the soil
as a metaphor for discipleship.
True discipleship
does not offer easy, comfortable solutions,
as Alexander Crummell demonstrated.

And, I can bet that there have been times
in your lives
that your discipleship has not been easy,
but it has offered you rich soil out
of which you have yielded great yield. 
Can you think of any stories in your life?

How about facing the embarrassment
of giving to the poor when friends remark,
“they will just drink that money away.”
Or suffering a great loss,
only after which we are able to see
the grace, reconciliation and love
that was received in the midst of it.
Or having just the right prayer
that allowed us to persevere
through a difficult season.
Or believing that even when everything
seems to be crashing down around you,
there is this little glimmer of hope
that “this is not all there is,
there is more hope than despair here!”

In this call to discipleship,
Jesus says that the word of the gospel
is not too weak for the job:
Loss has been part of the discipleship process from the beginning of time. 

Despite the vigorous opposition to the word
– the path, the rocky ground, the thorns –
even for Jesus,
despite the dramatic evidence
of his relationship to the divine,
even he was not able to sustain
an enduring faith from all who heard him.

But to those who cultivate discipleship of
rich, fertile soil –
with spiritual practices like
perseverance, hope, and love
To those who cultivate rich soil of discipleship,
        God’s abundant love will yield
thirty, sixty, hundredfold.


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